You know you're a huge film nerd when you create a spreadsheet of all the films you watched the entire year. However, the "Best Of" list is something I take very seriously folks. I would never want to be less than accurate in my findings. I did a lot of research this year and watched a few things I would not normally. I was pleasantly surprised in some cases, in others, I should have trusted my instincts. Alas, I will save the ranting for my "Worst Of" list that will soon follow.
I really tried to minimize the inclusion of documentaries to my list. You all know what a big fan of docs I am! Although, I did see some fantastic docs this year that just barely missed the list like JOBRIATH A.D, BONES BRIGADE, and COLOR ME OBSESSED. I thought MOONRISE KINGDOM was an incredible film that I know is already at the top of most people's list. I expect no less from Wes Anderson. I also think BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD was probably one of the best films I've seen in years and is truly underrated. I have no doubt it will be recognized come Oscar time. LIFE OF PI was another beautiful film that will surely gain the accolades it deserves. Now onto my personal list:
When FRANKENWEENIE came out, Tim Burton was already dead and buried to me as a result of the atrocious DARK SHADOWS. I was skeptical about this rendition of a beloved short film from my childhood. This film did not disappoint and it reminded me how much I once loved the crazy world of Tim Burton. I was as giddy as a little girl watching it and no film has made me feel like that in a while.
I generally despise Jack Black, but he is actually delightful in this film. There are so many references in this film that only a true Texan will understand. BERNIE is still ridiculously funny even if you were not fortunate enough to be born in the Lone Star State. Only fellow native Texan, Richard Linklater, could truly capture the quirky essence of East Texas. BERNIE is very reminiscent of a classic Christopher Guest film. What's even more interesting is that BERNIE is actually a true story.
8. CASA DE MI PADRE
It's no secret I am a huge fan of Gael Garcia Bernal. Until CASA, we have only seen Gael in gritty, raw, and arduous dramatic roles. Here we get to see him ham it up with his BFF Diego Luna. Personally, I was thouroughly impressed with Will Ferrel's Spanish accent. This film had me laughing nonstop. I can't believe more people saw 21 JUMP STREET than this?!
7. JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI
I thought I was a big fan of sushi. Turns out I'm not as well versed in the world of sushi as I thought I was. This film is not just about raw fish and the people who pay nearly $400 just to eat it. It's about passion for what you do. If everyone in the world had an ounce of Jiro's passion for his work, the world would be a better place. This film is a true testament of work ethic which sadly has become a thing of the past in recent generations.
6. GOD BLESS AMERICA
Most of us know Bobcat Goldthwaite as various goofy characters he's played in films like POLICE ACADEMY. Recently, he has become an incredibly talented director and writer. I was totally blown away by WORLD'S GREATEST DAD and GOD BLESS AMERICA was an equally entertaining film to follow up with. I'm kind of surprised that this film escaped more controversy than it has already received. Ross said this film gave him a touch of anxiety, but that's pretty much how I feel about real life events that are currently taking place. In the wake of so many tragedies that occurred in 2012, this film may have an even bigger message than I thought.
5. AI WEIWEI: NEVER SORRY
I was familiar with the story of Ai Weiwei thanks to Chris P and his vast knowledge of the art world. This is such a compelling story about one man's love for the people of his country and a deep fervor for creating art. Ai Weiwei is a true activist who had the courage to take a stand against an oppressive government. This film should bookend EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP because it really polarizes the people who make art because it's trendy and the people who make art because they have passion.
It's really easy to diss Ben Affleck for things like DAREDEVIL, PEARL HARBOR, ARMAGEDDON, and GIGLI. I actually enjoy Ben Affleck despite his flaws. He's done some great films like DAZED AND CONFUSED and MALLRATS. He wrote GOOD WILL HUNTING and GONE BABY GONE as well as directing the latter. Therefore, I had no doubt about ARGO. I knew it was gonna be a real contender this awards season. It sounds like a cliche, but this film (based on a true story) will keep you on the edge of your seat. The script is intelligent and razor sharp. If this doesn't redeem Affleck, I don't know what will.
3. DJANGO UNCHAINED
Everyone knows that QT is my favorite director. I knew I would love this film long before it arrived on Christmas Day. It's an homage to Spaghetti Westerns set in the Old South, pre-Civil War. The usual Tarantino dialogue we have come to enjoy is only showcased by the powerhouse that is Christoph Waltz. Seriously, this man's acting knows no limits. My favorite aspect of the film was Leo. Leo has come a long way from his dark daze as a teen heart throb. I became a Leo fan when he became Scorsese's muse. Fun fact: QT was interested in casting Leo as Col. Hans Landa in INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS until he decided to cast a German actor (Waltz) in the role. I would be interested in seeing future installments of the QT/Leo duo.
Also, to jump a bit off topic here, I am so tired of this film being the example of the prominence of gun violence in America. Several interviewers have questioned Tarantino on his thoughts on recent tragedies and how they relate to his films. Here's the deal people, they don't relate to each other. It's kind of like blaming drunk driving on too much Mario Kart. Films, video games, and music do NOT convince people to go on rampages. Mental illness (among other things) is the leading cause for many of these tragedies. Do you realize it's actually easier for me to get a gun than it is to adopt a pug? There's something very wrong with that fact. Let's stop putting the blame on everything else and address the issue head on.
2. CABIN IN THE WOODS
You either love this film or you hate it depending on your affinity for horror films. Obviously, I love the horror genre and I love this film. The whole second half of CABIN was more of a surprise for me than the whole "Bruce Willis is a ghost" thing. Not since John Hughes has someone been able to really understand young people like Joss Whedon. That white board is probably one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. I think Whedon and Drew Goddard really breathed some new life into the horror world. This film is a smart, funny, and exciting homage to a much beloved genre.
1. KILLER JOE
I heard a lot of buzz about this film during SXSW 2012. It had my interest the minute I found out William Friedkin was directing. I was not prepared to be as blown away as I was. Will someone give the Texas T-Rex an Oscar already? KILLER JOE is by far one of my favorite films of the last decade.
There you have it folk, my picks of 2012! What were your favorite films of last year?